FBI and DOJ Accused of Misconduct in Congressional Report

The Republican staff of Judiciary committee from the U.S. House Representatives released a report on November 4, 2021 that accuses the FBI and Department of Justice of a laundry list of misconduct, including manipulating domestic violent extremism statistics, communication with social media companies about misinformation, and retaliating against agents who attended rallies outside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. “The FBI and DOJ are entrusted with extraordinary power to protect the American people,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) said in a statement. “The evidence collected by the Committees shows that they have abused that power.” The accusation list in the 1050-page report titled “FBI whistle: what their disclosures indicate about politicization of the FBI and Justice Department” include artificially inflating statistics of domestic violent extremism, abusing its counterterrorism authorities to investigate parents who spoke at school board meetings, and abusing its foreign intelligence authorities to spy on American citizens, among others.

First, the report is the culmination of a two-year investigation by the House Judiciary committees. The report provides detailed examples of how FBI followed the directives of AG Garland and DOJ to perform serious misconducts that resulted in political oppression of former President Donald Trump. Therefore, the report is likely to add to the already tense relationship between the Trump camp and the FBI, DOJ and the Democratic Party. President Trump has frequently attacked the FBI and its former director, James Comey. In December OF 2021, Trump tweeted that the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters.” The report is a damning indictment of the FBI and DOJ, and it is likely to further damage the already strained relationship between the Trump camp and his opponents. More seriously, the report merely reflects the huge gap and increasing conflicts between the Republican and Democratics that are deeply dividing the society. The America’s relatively rigid, two-party electoral system stands apart by collapsing a wide range of legitimate social and political issues that require a united society to address. In this sense, America’s biggest enemy is within, not from outside.

Second, FBI has a long troubling history of using its authorities and powers to advance political goals. For example, FBT was found to carry out not only the surveillance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and also secretly engage in the campaign of violent actions to discredit the civil rights leader. FBI is a key component of law enforcement under the justice system that is purportedly to uphold freedom and protect human rights including political freedom. However, under the current U.S. political arena, both FBI and DOJ have apparently lost their independence and become increasingly corrupt politically. This signals a dangerous trend of potentially slipping into a “mafia state” in which police forces serve as the instruments for political oppression and cruelty rather than social security and safety. It is thus critical for the FBI and DOJ to maintain their political independence especially from the party leaders of either side. Furthermore, the checks and balances between FBI and DOJ need to be restored as both need their own governance structure for sound operation.

Third, the former President Trump continues to exert influence in the U.S. politics in an unpredictable fashion. His unique approach to run campaigns and rally support is likely to be an unstable source of destruction to the democratic foundation of the nation. The notorious incident of the U.S. Capitol Hill attack in January 2021 reminds many of how fragile the democratic system, as violence arose when the weak consensus from the political campaign was not reached. Huge dispersion in political beliefs and disparity in wealth have contributed to rise of narrow nationalism and even hatred. Anecdotal incidents of racial and social hatred show a warning trend of increase, often bringing to deadly shotting and large-scale confrontation. Ironically, FBI and DOJ, created to maintain social stability and justice, are likely to aggravate these problems when they are targets of politicization themselves.